His first game as an NFL coach did not go well, but the immediate aftermath might have been worse.
Jon Gruden was 35 in 1988 when the Oakland Raiders were routed at Kansas City in their season opener. On the plane ride home he sat next to owner Al Davis.
“I didn’t think we were going to make a first down the whole year,” Gruden said. “So I thought about quitting when I got off the plane.”
Gruden kept his job, guiding the Raiders to consecutive 8-8 finishes before a breakthrough 12-4 record in his third season. Two years later, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he won a Super Bowl championship.
In 2008, Gruden’s final season as an NFL coach, he hired a young assistant...